Westward Expansion in the US

Essay by bontibusHigh School, 11th gradeA, November 2014

download word file, 9 pages 0.0

I. Intro

Once the United States had successfully created and implemented a stable constitution, it was recognized that further progress as a country would only come from expansion westward. Settlers in the New World were initially held along the east coast by the Proclamation of 1763 to minimize potentially dangerous interactions with Native Americans. While not all adhered to this rule, especially after British political influence permanently left the country in 1776, the Proclamation seemed to have served its purpose. By 1800, less than 7% of the population lived west of the Appalachians. Of those that did, the majority of them resided in the Ohio River Valley, which was home to fertile land that could easily be modified for farming. There were many differences between this United States and the one of 1900, the most prominent being size. In just the 19th century alone, the size of the U.S. grew from under one million square miles to over three million square miles.

In this same time frame, the percent of the population that lived in the west rose from 7% all the way to 60%. There was also a large shift geographically in the distribution of economic activity. The west was responsible for under thirty percent of federal household income in 1840, but in 1900, it was responsible for fifty four percent. The United States' expansion westward was directly related to three quantitatively important forces, the first of which being the stock of usable land, the second being population size. As both of these increased, as did the rate of Western Expansion. The third force was the cost of transportation, which has a positive effect on expansion as it decreased. These phenomenon can be observed through the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the War of 1812, the Missouri...